Sharing is caring, now more than ever

“Why own when you can share?” the brochures of CarShare Vermont boldly ask.CarShare Vermont, which just launched downtown on Dec. 15, 2008, is a local non-profit organization that makes driving easier and more affordable.”We are a mission-driven organization,” Annie Bourdon, executive director of CarShare Vermont, said. “Our mission is to provide an alternative to car rental and to help the environment and the community.”Car sharing, a concept that has been in the U.S. for 10 years, is like renting a car in your own town. The differences are that you reuse the same cars, you only pay for how long you reserve and drive and you only have to be 18 years old to use the CarShare cars, Bourdon said.What members find to be the most advantageous, Bourdon said, is that CarShare Vermont makes driving virtually free for their members by covering gas, insurance and roadside assistance fees. The cars are also accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”Car sharing is different from car renting,” Bourdon said. “This makes driving available for everyone because it focuses on the short term.”To become a member, you must be at least 18 years old, have had a license for at least two years and have a clean record – no more than two moving violations. Members under 21 years of age must have proof of primary insurance, and members 21 and older use CarShare Vermont’s insurance plan, Bourdon said.There are two plans available for members, Bourdon said: the Share-A-Lot plan, which is designed for those who plan on driving quite a bit, and the Share-A-Little plan, designed for those who just need to run some errands once every couple of weeks or so.Bourdon emphasized that CarShare Vermont is trying to recruit UVM students so that they don’t have to bring cars to school, just to have them sitting in the lot for the majority of the year.”It’s a great way for students and/or their parents to save lots of money,” Bourdon said. “We’re trying to get the next generation to use it. UVM has a small college campus, so there’s not as much need for cars to sit in a lot.”Sophomore Eamon Harrity considered it to be a great alternative to taking the bus.”It’s certainly convenient for people who don’t want to take the bus, and it’s a neat way to run errands,” he said. “People are going to treat the cars well because they want other people to treat them well. It’s a little bit of freedom without the responsibility of owning a car.”Katherine Decarreau, director of Transportation and Parking Services at UVM, likes the sharing facet as well.”We’re hoping that by having more of a sense of sharing, people will take better care of [the cars],” she said. “Unlike rental cars, you’ll use them regularly, not just once.”There are currently four “pods,” where the cars are parked, in Burlington, Bourdon said.There are eight CarShare Vermont cars in total, and as the demand for more cars rises, CarShare Vermont will provide more. There are two parked in the Davis Center parking lot, Decarreau said, and their names are Dewey and Pearl, named after the famous John Dewey, who is buried here, and Pearl Randall Wasson, the first Dean of Women at UVM.”It’s fun, affordable and an environmentally-smart decision,” Bourdon said. “The more numbers, the more cars in different locations they’ll get. They’re new cars, and we take care of everything.”According to Bourdon, the average car owner uses his car for one hour per day, and has to pay $500/month. The most a CarShare member has to pay per month is $15.The environmental aspect is another attractive feature for members, especially in Vermont.”America is a place of excess, and we live in a city where you don’t necessarily need a car,” Harrity said. “This cuts back on the excess.”Decarreau finds it to be “a good option for students, faculty and staff,” and is excited to see more students take advantage of CarShare Vermont.”At this point, I think we’re showing as good results as we possibly can,” she said. “Sixteen to 17 percent of students brought cars to UVM in the fall, and it’s hard to imagine that number going any lower. “CarShare Vermont is important in helping sustain that percentage. We’re really pleased to be a partner in the venture with Champlain College, and we hope people will take a look at this as an option.”CarShare plansBoth Plans ? $30 application fee per person – to check your driving record? Free gas and insurance included Share-a-Lot? $15 monthly membership fee – or $150 for the year? Add up to four drivers to your account? $4.95 an hour? 25? per mile? $49 day rate, plus 15? per mile Share-a-Little? No monthly membership fee? $6.95 an hour? 25? per mile? $69 day rate, plus 15? per mileAll information from the Carshare Vermont Web site (www.carsharevt.org)